You might have firsthand experience with the positive impacts of having a culturally or racially diverse workforce in terms of business and recruitment agencies for Saudi Industry benefits and strategic advantages. You may also recognize the moral imperative of fostering an inclusive environment where everyone’s voice is heard.
However, like me, you might be unsure about where and how to kickstart your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) journey. This uncertainty is particularly evident in industries such as manufacturing, where a significant percentage of respondents express a desire to invest in DEI but struggle with initiating the process, as revealed in a recent survey.
Challenges in Diversity Recruitment: Navigating the Unknown
The challenges intensify in regions where geographical and demographic factors make it challenging to recruit a diverse pool of candidates and form inclusive teams. Additionally, there might be some discomfort associated with implementing a diversity strategy, especially if you come from a background that lacks diversity.
In my view, the most effective approach to building and leading diverse teams is to begin with curiosity.
Curiosity as the Catalyst: Lessons from Childhood
Reflecting on my upbringing in a small town in Newfoundland, Canada, during the eighties, diversity was limited. However, even in that homogeneous environment, there were glimpses of diversity, such as my friend Jesse, the only Pakistani kid in town. Embracing curiosity, I explored his culture by asking questions and learning about his unique experiences.
This childhood lesson taught me valuable principles:
- A spark of curiosity can ignite a flame of understanding. In my case, a love for food was the spark.
- It’s acceptable to inquire about other cultures respectfully.
- Continuous curiosity and learning about others contribute to personal and mutual enrichment.
Translating Curiosity to the Business Context: Why Diversity Matters
Now, let’s apply this curiosity to the business context. Why does it matter to establish a diversity recruiting strategy?
There are two primary arguments: it’s good for business and the right thing to do. Based on my career experiences, diverse teams offer several advantages:
- They strike a balance between speed and quality in problem-solving, leading to more innovative and profitable solutions.
- Diverse teams foster a unique professionalism, grounded in mutual trust and respect, which prevents cliques, clubbiness, and groupthink.
- They exhibit greater resilience, similar to diverse ecosystems in nature, making them more adaptable to disturbances.
The Purpose of Diversity Recruitment: Defining Your Mission
Understanding the importance of diversity in recruitment, the next step is defining your purpose. Once that’s clear, consider the following steps to build and lead diverse teams:
- Pursue your curiosity: Engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds in your network. Initiate conversations over coffee or virtual lunches to understand their experiences.
- Seek new talent sources: Look beyond traditional recruiting methods to find diverse candidates. Diversity-focused job sites can be valuable resources.
- Hire anonymously: Use anonymized screening tools to minimize unconscious biases in the hiring process, focusing on skills and abilities upfront.
Leading a Diverse Team: Navigating the Inclusive Path
Leading a diverse team requires self-awareness, proactive promotion of inclusivity, and celebration of differences. This can be achieved through understanding your own leadership style, actively seeking employee feedback, and celebrating diverse perspectives.
- Know yourself: Determine your behavioral style (using a DISC method or similar) to understand better how you will lead collaboration and constructive conflict on your behaviorally diverse team.
- Actively promote diversity with inclusivity: Take the pulse of your employees with a survey – do they feel like you’re listening to them? There’s a good chance it’s not as good as you think. For your employees, being able to voice their concerns, contribute new ideas, and provide feedback is important. To be truly inclusive as a leader, you need to start by listening.
- Celebrate the differences: Celebrate the differences of your diverse team, using this as an opportunity to add depth to the relationship between team members. Start with something casual like a culturally focused potluck where everyone on the team brings their favorite dish or a lunch and learn event where your team has the opportunity to learn and ask questions about someone else’s culture. In my experience, one of the most effective ways to break down barriers is through the shared enjoyment of eating together. Be sure to celebrate the differences equally – check out these 10 ideas to celebrate diversity.
Embracing Diversity Together
If you’re feeling stuck in building a diversity recruitment strategy because of a lack of a diverse personal background, you’re not alone.
It can be hard to know where to start to build a diverse team, and that’s why I recommend you start with your own curiosity. Getting started in diversity recruiting can be innate and within your control, and doesn’t involve a big initial investment.
Let your diversity grow, nurture it in others, and you’ll be amazed at how exciting it can be to build diverse teams and realize the outsized results they can generate.